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Investment Firm Funds Pittsfield Artswalk Into 2013

Pittsfield Cultural Office
08:47AM / Friday, September 07, 2012
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Allen Harris, president of Berkshire Money Management,  and Barbara Schmick, BMM director of operations, sport Artswalk hats after Harris announced his firm would underwrite the downtown initiative into 2013.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — First Fridays Artswalk, which began as the idea of businesswoman Mary McGinnis and artist Leo Mazzeo just a few short months ago, will become the first year-round monthly collaborative arts event in the Berkshires, thanks to a new lead sponsor.

Local investment firm Berkshire Money Management has stepped up to the plate to support First Fridays Artswalk, enabling the initiative to continue into the winter and 2013.

Berkshire Money Management President and Chief Investment Officer Allen Harris said he was impressed with the success of First Fridays Artwalk and saw an opportunity to help.

"As a business owner, I see the incredible value of the arts and culture for the local economy and for our quality of life," said Harris. "When I looked at the early success of the ArtsWalk and its positive impact for downtown businesses, it was clear to me that this needs to continue throughout the year."

He encouraged other local companies to also support Artswalk. Ferrin Gallery, which hosted the press conference announcing the new sponsor, was inspired by Harris to donate 15 percent of any sales made that day to the initiative.

Funding from sponsors and partners helps support marketing and outreach efforts and an honorarium for Mazzeo for managing the program.

Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi has been a fan of First Fridays Artswalk from its inception.

"We are grateful to Berkshire Money Management and all of the sponsors, local businesses and artists who work together to bring this exciting initiative to our community," he said.

Downtown businesswoman Mary McGinnis spearheaded the Artswalk initiative artist Leo Mazzeo. The first Artswalk, below, debuted in May.
The Artswalks are held the first Friday of each month from 5 to 8 p.m. in the downtown and feature art shows in more than two dozen galleries, shops and restaurants, often featuring artist receptions, artist talks, and other special events. The next First Fridays Artwalk is this Friday, Sept. 7.

McGinnis, owner of Gallery 25 and Mary's Carrot Cake, has been measuring the direct economic impact in just the first four months of Artswalks. So far she's documented more than $40,000 in sales of artwork and other items, and she's not finished contacting businesses.

"I am so excited and inspired by the impact Artswalk has made in a few short months, and so grateful for Berkshire Money Management's investment in Artswalk, and those of our other sponsors," she said. "We look forward to working with them on creative ways to inspire continued success. We've got some fun things in the works!"

Berkshire Money Management joins other major sponsors of First Fridays Artswalk, including Gallery 25, the Massachusetts Cultural Council/Cultural Pittsfield, and Berkshire Art Association, along with Berkshire Bank Foundation, Berkshire Heath Systems, Berkshire Theatre Group, and Downtown Pittsfield Inc.

Downtown Artswalk partners include Empty Set Projects, Miller Supply, Berkshire Museum, Crowne Plaza, Brix Wine Bar, Marketplace Café, Downtown Pittsfield, Inc., the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Pateez Boutique, Brenda & Co, Bagels Too, Berkshire Carousel Gallery, Steven Valenti Clothing for Men, Berkshire Community College Intermodal Gallery, Paul Rich & Sons, Spice Dragon, Alchemy Initiative, Art.On.No, Treehouse, Gallery 25, Mad Macs, BINGO!, Wild Sage, Aerus Electrolux, Y Bar, Ferrin Gallery, Circa, the Lantern, West Side Clock Shop and Berkshire Medical Center.

Tags: artswalk,   creative economy,   Cultural Pittsfield,   downtown,   

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